Kennel Cough in Dogs- Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention | NaturPet

Kennel Cough in Dogs

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What is Kennel Cough?

Kennel Cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection. It can be caused by a variety of viruses and bacteria and is sometimes called Bordatella. Kennel cough is commonly contracted in places like kennels, shelters, veterinary clinics, and dog parks. Kennel cough is usually not serious in healthy dogs But dogs with weaker immune systems like puppies, senior dogs and dogs with compromised immune systems can become seriously ill from the infection.

small dog coughing from kennel cough


  • Dry, hacking cough, sometimes described as a goose honk.
  • Gagging like something is stuck in their throat
  • Coughing up white, foamy fluid

Secondary Symptoms:

(usually cause secondary infection due to weakened immune system):

  • Nasal discharge
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Fever

Symptoms usually appear 5-10 days after initial contact with an infected dog and can last for up to 3 weeks. It is important to keep an infected dog isolated from other dogs for several weeks after symptoms clear as they can continue to pass the infection. If secondary symptoms are present, it can be an indicator of pneumonia and you should seek out immediate veterinary care.


Most dogs recover without treatment depending on severity. Monitor your dog closely in case symptoms worsen. For dogs with severe cough, your vet may prescribe a cough suppressant. In some cases, antibiotics may be prescribed to fight the bacterial infection. Though they have no effect on viruses and does not completely fix the issue. Some dogs may need intensive treatments that have more severe symptoms such as fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite.

For a more natural approach, manuka honey has been used to sooth the cough and help to fight infection due to its’ antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties. There is no recommended dose but for most dogs ½ to 1 teaspoon of honey given three or four times daily seems to work well. Herbs can be used to sooth the throat and calm coughs. Licorice bark, sage leaf, wild cherry bark, Hyssop aerial parts, elecampane root, and slippery elm are herbs that have a demulcent effect, meaning that they calm inflammation in mucous membranes like the ones that line the throat and nasal passages.

kennel cough prevention dog vaccines and medicine


There is a vaccine for kennel cough that many kennels require for dogs staying with them. The vaccine doesn’t protect against all viruses and bacteria associated with kennel cough. There have been several cases of kennel cough breakouts in boarding facilities that require this vaccine. A vaccine that only protects from a few of the infectious culprits will not completely protect your dog from getting sick. There are number of ways to protect a dog and diet is one of the most important.


Immune defense starts in the gut. Nutrition is very important for overall health and protecting against a canine cold. Just like humans who wish to stay healthy through the “cold and flu season”. Whole foods and high-quality proteins are the best option but if you are feeding your dog commercial dog food it is easy enough to add herbs and nutrients to their food to help boost their immunity. Slippery elm can be beneficial to add to your dog’s food because it helps to heal the lining of the gut and in turn, provide an ideal environment for beneficial bacteria that promote healthy digestion and a strong immune system.

Probiotics are great for protecting the gut during treatment, as well as for strengthening the immune system during prevention. Foods that are antiviral and antibacterial include: antioxidant foods (blueberries, salmon, seaweeds), mushrooms like Reishi and Maitake, and raw honey. Herbs that are antiviral and antibacterial herbs include: turmeric, ginger, dandelion leaf, astragalus, and goldenseal. Dogs naturally produces vitamin C so it isn’t an essential vitamin for them. Adding a bit more into their diet can be a beneficial boost for the immune system. Some foods that are high in vitamin C are rosehips, camu camu, and acerola berries.


Many natural products exist for increasing immune function, targeting infection, and supporting the healing process. Pup parents should be aware that not all supplements are in the ideal form for dogs to absorb. Whole foods and herbs offer nutrients in a natural form that your dog’s body will recognize and more easily absorb. NaturPet has many such herbal formulas. NaturPet Immuno Boost can help to protect your pup by getting their immune system ready for an attack. For lung health, NaturPet Lung Care is a formula that works as a preventative by strengthening the immune and respiratory systems, as well as working as a remedy that soothes and fights infection. By using any of these prevention methods, you will decrease your dog’s chances of getting kennel cough. Stay healthy this winter!


Lindsey Eadie, CNP
Lindsey Eadie, CNP
Lindsey is a Holistic Nutritionist who graduated from the Institute of Holistic Nutrition in Vancouver, BC on the Dean’s Honors list where she learned the true healing abilities of whole foods, herbs, and supplemental nutrients. After graduation she worked as a Natural Health Advisor for an integrative pharmacy where she used her nutrition and orthomolecular knowledge to promote the wellbeing of all her clients, including the furry four-legged ones. Her passion for natural health has directly benefited her allergy-riddled female Pyrenes/Bernese Mountain dog named Astro and her anxious Golden Retriever/Bernese Mountain Dog Bella. She is currently applying all her knowledge to her position at NaturPet Inc. as an Educator and Account Manager, spreading awareness of natural health alternatives for optimal pet health.

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